Category: Landscape (page 1 of 3)

Designing an infiltration trench

Eventual design from a Rainwater Harvesting book.

Eventual design from a Rainwater Harvesting book.

If you have been following along recently, you will have learned that Rainwater is the fountain of life, that you have the ability to Reduce Urban Runoff. The City of Santa Monica has a program designed specifically to Capture Urban Runoff with a guide and a worksheet to build the best rainwater capturing system for your site. You will heave learned that drainage gravel takes up considerable space in the ground, perhaps there are better options available?

“Whether you have a gardening green thumb or solar panels on your roof, capturing rainwater at home is the next logical step towards our natural resource independence.”

Our latest article in this series discussed placing a rainwater infiltration basin in an area away from underground utilities, on or near current drainage piping and away from high trafficked areas. With every project it is a good idea to draw up some design plans which we can utilize to properly build our system.

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Capturing Urban Runoff at Home – Part 2

ur_worksheetFirst part of this series covers different design ideas for handling urban runoff on single family, multi-family and commercial developments. This is part 2.

Continuing from the Santa Monica Urban Runoff Management Program, this section covers their worksheet for a variety of construction activity or for voluntary participation.

Check with your local city to determine their stormwater treatment requirements on new or redeveloped construction. In some cases, changing 2,500 sq ft of pervious ground to 2,500 sq ft of impervious ground can trigger the need for stormwater treatment construction at the job site. The Federal Clean Water Act, enforced by the State Regional Water Boards mandates this requirement. In many cases, a regional “Municipal Regional Permit” will hold the design requirements for following through.

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Capturing Urban Runoff at Home – Part 1

City of Santa Monica Urban Runoff Management Program

City of Santa Monica URMP

In the southern California city known for its nice beaches and celebrity homes, Santa Monica has an Urban Runoff Management Program aimed to reducing runoff from polluting Santa Monica Bay.  In a city Ordinance Chapter 7.10 that was designed to reduce 0.75″ of rainfall leaving all “impermeable surfaces of all newly developed parcels within the City. … also specifies guidelines for existing properties to reduce the level of contaminants that are carried by urban runoff into the Bay.”

In their Urban Runoff Management Program brochure, they expand upon Best Management Practices for reducing urban runoff pollution. Information includes “increasing the percentage of permeable surfaces and landscaped areas by”:

  1. porous materials that will increase the amount of runoff that seeps into the ground, rather than being carried into storm drains
  2. natural drainage
  3. filtration pits
  4. swales, berms, green strip filters, gravel beds and french drains.

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Combat Carbon Atmospheric Levels With Trees

Tesla posted an article on their Facebook page about Carbon Dioxde (CO2) emissions passing the 400PPM mark, of which they then followed it up with a battery storage post. News flash, batteries don’t store CO2. Tree’s do. We should plant more trees.


As seen in the graphic from NASA above, tree’s should be planted in area’s where the red color is darkest. This is where we’ll have the biggest impact.
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Unlocking your gardens growth potential

Like many of you, I tore out my lawn and put in a California drought friendly garden. Complete with drip irrigation, mulch and drought tolerant plants. Even with this landscape change, I still haul recycled water. As I’ve said many of times before, I do it because its the right thing to do.

Even though the plants don’t need much water, I still irrigate with drinking water through the drip system twice a week for a few minutes each time. On days when I bring recycled water home, I get to choose which plants get it and which don’t,  this has allowed me to perform a test and the results are key to unlocking your gardens full potential.

There are many different flowering plants in my garden, but there are two I want to focus on. Crinum (Cry-num) and Bulbinella (bulb-in-nell-uh).
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Lawn-to-Garden: A Year Later

A year ago I removed the lawn in my front yard and replaced it with a drought tolerant garden and a swale. I wrote about the process and everything that went in to it.

This is what it looked like before:

Here is what it looks like today:
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El Niño Could Lower Tax Bill

Water storage in Texas.

Water storage in Texas.

California usually sets the stage for policy when it comes to environmental issues. When it comes to rainwater harvesting, we are far behind. As we face this drought to drench, we should have the drive and motivation to capture as much rain was we can.  Even with reservoirs rising 391 billion gallons after a storm, we’re still short of average for this time of year.

Many call for building more dams or raising their levels to store more water – but all of that comes at a price and an environmental impact.

To put things into perspective, think of this call-to-action as de ja vu.  Back when installing photo-voltaic panels (solar panels) on homeowners roof’s was something deemed unworthy has now turned into a economic boom for the state. Nearly every neighborhood has dozens of homes covered in panels. Those power generation stations were funded with tax rebates. Rainwater harvesting should be no different.

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Why do we talk about rainwater harvesting?

Credit: HarvestingRainwater.com

Credit: HarvestingRainwater.com

You may have noticed an abundance of rainwater harvesting articles as of late. There is a reason for that. Water that falls from the sky is yours to do with. It would be wise to keep it on your property and put it somewhere that won’t affect the foundation of your house. The best place to put it is in the ground, where plants can utilize its resources later in the year.

The fundamental principles established here are exactly what people have done for centuries.

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DIY Solution to Ponding Water

Ponding water.

Ponding water.

Is water ponding on your property after El Niño rains? Do pools of water sit for long periods of time and don’t drain? RecycledH2O visited The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California and discovered what they did to resolve their ponding problem.

There were multiple ponds that would always form when it rains across the 3.5 acre drought tolerant garden, nestled in the heart of Walnut Creek.

A number of factors have created a hardpan under the topsoil which impedes percolation. Once water is directed below the hardpan it is better able to percolate into the soil, recharging the water table.

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Clear Leaves from Storm Drains

Leaves blocking drain after rain.

As homeowners, we are responsible for the trees on our property. That means when trees decide to lose their leaves, we are responsible for where they go. If you’re anything like my neighbors – your mind says “if the leaves are in the street, it’s not my problem.”

Except, they are your problem. Too many leaves blocking a storm drain can cause flooding in heavy El Nino rains. Flooding leads to impassable streets, safety hazards and possibly property damage.

You have the power and ability to help keep your community safe during winter storms. If you feel up to the task, jump in and help out.

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